Hospital CEO calls media ‘bias’ on COVID-19 coverage as Riverside tests 200 patients a day


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Riverside Healthcare CEO Phil Kambic addressed the public during a Countywide press conference on Wednesday to discuss the state of the COVID-19 locally.  The press conference had been called to tout local response efforts to the virus in a county that’s seen 1,628 cases to date.

During the conference, Riverside’s CEO expressed his grief with media coverage of COVID-19.

 “Doesn’t matter if you’re a conservative or a liberal, talk about CNN, talk about Fox News, MSNBC, ABC, The New York Times.  All of those organizations are big business.  Right? And what are they in business for?  They’re in business to make money, right? That’s the American way.  That’s a capitalistic society.   But all of them are in it for reader, viewer ratings.” Kambic said Wednesday.  “They want people to read their newspaper, they want viewers to watch their TV channel, and they want listeners to listen to their radio broadcasts.”

Kambic expressed his displeasure of pandemic coverage nationally because he says it highlights the extremes, not the common place.

“All of them sensationalize what’s actually happening out there.  Every one of them.  All of them highlight the extreme, not the common place.  All of them have their political bias, whether they’re Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal, doesn’t matter.  They all have their biases.  And the sad thing for this country is that you don’t know who to believe or who to listen to.” Kambic said.

 Kambic added he was referring to national news coverage, not local entities.

“Mark Twain, right? Mark Twain, wrote Tom Sawyer, great American Author, he had a quote: ‘There are three kinds of lies.  Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics.’ And that’s probably more appropriate today than it was when he said it over 100 years ago.  Statistics can be very deceiving.” Kambic read. “What do those statistics mean and what statistics do you pay attention to?”

Kambic is CEO at a hospital that owns and operates two long-term care facilities in the area that have been infected and seen devastation from the pandemic. The administrator stressed during the press conference people who are not in healthcare can be easily confused by general statistics.

“You hear statistics about death and it’s horrible, and it is horrible.  But which ones do you believe.  What’s good, what’s bad?” Kambic asked.

The CEO cited an example of a colleague telling at an unknown date Northwestern Hospital was at 95% capacity in their ICU.  Kambic says Northwestern’s ICU runs 95% occupancy due to patients around the country being sent to the location. “Understand what you’re being told.” Kambic stressed to the community. Kambic followed the speech by addressing statistics in the Kankakee County community.   

As of Monday, Kambic says 21,854 area residents had been tested in the community over the course of the past three months.  Of those, 1,503 were positive.   

 “So 6.88% positivity rate, right?” Kambic said during the meeting the numbers were trending downward. As of Thursday, the entire State of Illinois’ positivity rate was 3.4% and rising this past week. The CEO added Riverside Healthcare now has a special COVID-19 test that can give results in less than an hour, but is limited to emergency situations only.

On Wednesday, Kankakee County Health Department announced 34 new cases in Kankakee County, bring this week’s total to 64 so far since Monday.  As a reminder to the public, testing is only valid for those individuals at the time a test is taken.

Since March, Kambic says Riverside has admitted over 150 COVID-19 patients in the 300 bed hospital.  At any given time, the hospital has seen as many as 20 plus patients at once all the way down to one admission.  As of Wednesday, four were admitted at the facility.

The Hospital’s CEO said there has been a surge in people wanting to be testing.

“We reopened our drive up testing, right?  And so our drive-thru is open on our main campus.  We’ve been seeing so far about 200 patients a day going through that drive up.” Kambic told the audience.

The drive-up is open from 7am to 1pm with turnaround testing expected in 24 to 48 hours.  Kambic added facilities for testing are open in Coal City, Frankfort and Monee.  The CEO cited recent changes in insurance that require most patients to get a doctors order to have the test covered by insurance.

 “I tell people this and they cringe, here’s a reality.  COVID is not going away.  COVID is going to be with us for the next 12, 18, 24 months.  Let’s hope and pray there’s a vaccine.” Kambic said, stressing the need for masks now. “Wear a mask in public guys.” Kambic said.  “Maybe it’s an infringement on your personal human rights, I don’t really care.  I wear a mask in public because I don’t want to infect you.  Wear a mask in public so you don’t infect me, or my family, or my loved ones. You could be walking around with it, you could be a carrier, you don’t even know.” Kambic told the public Wednesday. “But you get with a senior or someone who is recovering from Cancer or a chronic condition, even severe diabetes, you can infect them very easily.  So please, please wear a mask.”

Riverside’s CEO urged the community to take basic steps in mitigation of the virus, including washing hands, don’t touch your face and continued social distancing and getting your annual flu shot before Winter.


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